Tory Remainer rebels spark Brexiteer fury as they AGREE to meet with Jeremy Corbyn to discuss plans to block a No Deal Brexit and make him PM
- Trio of Tory MPs agree to meet with Jeremy Corbyn to discuss anti-No Deal plans
- Dominic Grieve, Sir Oliver Letwin and Dame Caroline Spelman agree to talks
- The MPs promise to ‘work together in Parliament to prevent No Deal Brexit’
- Brexiteers say trio should be kicked out of Tory party if they vote with Mr Corbyn
Three leading Tory Remainer MPs sparked the fury of their pro-Brexit colleagues and risked their future in the Conservative Party today after they agreed to meet with Jeremy Corbyn to discuss how to block a No Deal divorce from the EU.
Mr Corbyn sent a letter to opposition leaders and a handful of senior Europhile Conservative MPs last night urging them to help him topple Boris Johnson and become caretaker PM to delay Brexit beyond October 31.
The proposal has been given short shrift by Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson who called the plan ‘nonsense’ but a trio of Tories have agreed to face-to-face talks with Mr Corbyn.
Dominic Grieve, Dame Caroline Spelman and Sir Oliver Letwin reportedly said in a written response to Mr Corbyn: ‘We agree that our common priority should be to work together in Parliament to prevent No Deal Brexit and welcome your invitation to discuss the different ways that this might be achieved.
‘We would be happy to meet with you as well as colleagues from other opposition parties whenever convenient in the weeks before Parliament returns.’
Former Tory and now independent MP Nick Boles has also agreed to attend the talks.
Tory Brexiteers said the trio should be kicked out of the Conservative Party if they do anything to undermine Mr Johnson’s negotiations with Brussels.
While committing to a meeting with Mr Corbyn, the rebels did not discuss supporting a vote of no confidence against Mr Johnson – a move which would almost certainly result in them losing the Conservative whip.
Dame Caroline later clarified that she would be unwilling to support a temporary government led by Mr Corbyn in any circumstances, according to Sky News.
The fact that sitting Tory MPs are willing to meet with Mr Corbyn to discuss how to thwart Mr Johnson’s ‘do or die’ Brexit pledge to take Britain out of the EU by October 31 with or without a deal has prompted an angry backlash.
Jeremy Corbyn, pictured outlining his plans on Sky News today, has invited opposition leaders and Tory rebels to work with him to oust Boris Johnson
One Conservative Brexiteer told MailOnline: ‘The whole ambition for a Conservative should be to stop Jeremy Corbyn, not to stop Brexit. That’s the problem.
‘Stopping a No Deal Brexit is basically stopping Brexit and that is what they want.
‘To weaken the leverage of the Prime Minister in this negotiation only brings a smile to Michel Barnier’s face.
‘They should not be talking to Jeremy Corbyn. The test is going to be this: If they vote with Jeremy Corbyn to undermine the negotiating position of Boris Johnson they should go.
‘If these people talk to the Labour Party their constituents would be horrified. They should know who the enemy is. It is ludicrous.’
In his letter to senior MPs, Mr Corbyn urged them to support a vote of no confidence against Mr Johnson’s administration and then install the Labour leader temporarily in Number 10.
He said: ‘Following a successful vote of no confidence in the government, I would then, as Leader of the Opposition, seek the confidence of the House for a strictly time-limited temporary government with the aim of calling a general election, and securing the necessary extension of Article 50 to do so.
‘In that general election, Labour will be committed to a public vote on the terms of leaving the European Union, including an option to Remain.’
Mr Corbyn said he hoped his plan would ‘halt the serious threat of No Deal, end the uncertainty and disarray, and allow the public to decide the best way ahead for our country’.
But the fact that his blueprint includes making him prime minister means it will be almost impossible for many opposition MPs to support, with a large number of Remainers angry at Mr Corbyn’s seemingly confusing Brexit position.
His plan started to unravel this morning as furious senior Labour frontbenchers tore into the Lib Dems after Ms Swinson dismissed the idea of the Lib Dems’ 14 MPs helping him take power.
She rubbished his plan and said there was ‘no way’ the Labour leader could unite MPs.
The letter sent by Jeremy Corbyn setting out how he intends to stop a No Deal Brexit
The parliamentary maths that could put Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street and delay Brexit
Jeremy Corbyn’s plan hinges on a vote of no confidence in Boris Johnson’s Government being successful.
He is planning to potentially call such a vote within days of Parliament returning in September.
After a series of defections and election defeats, the Prime Minister’s majority in the Commons is just one, meaning a tiny rebellion by Remainer Tories could sweep him from No 10 just weeks after getting his key in the door.
Under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act (FTPA), losing a confidence motion triggers a 14 day countdown to an election being called.
During that period it is possible for a prime minister to win a confidence vote and prevent the country going to the polls.
But the same is true of the Opposition leader or indeed any unity candidate that can command enough backing.
Some 650 MPs sit in the Commons. Excluding Sinn Fein’s seven who do not take their seats and the Speaker and three deputies who do not vote, a majority is 320.
Mr Johnson has 311 Tory MPs plus the support of the 10 Democratic Unionist Party parliamentarians, taking him to 321.
This majority of one is set against perhaps half a dozen Labour MPs who back Leave and who do not want it to be delayed and may vote against Jeremy Corbyn or any leader aiming to postpone Brexit.
The question is how many Tories are ready to back a no confidence vote by Mr Corbyn or allow him to become prime minister.
It is a drastic option that would end the careers of any Conservative MPs who join, but only a PM can request an extension to the Article 50 process, and the legal default currently is that the UK leaves at Halloween with or without an agreement.
She suggested that veteran Tory Ken Clarke or Labour’s Harriet Harman, the two longest serving MPs in the Commons, would be better choices to lead a temporary government with the single purpose of stopping No Deal and seeking a further Brexit delay.
‘Jeremy Corbyn is not the person who is going to be able to build an even temporary majority in the House of Commons for this task – I would expect there are people in his own party and indeed the necessary Conservative backbenchers who would be unwilling to support him,’ she said.
‘It is a nonsense. This letter is just more red lines that are about him and his position and is not a serious attempt to find the right solution and build a consensus to stop a No Deal Brexit.’
Labour Party chairman Ian Lavery hit back and tweeted: ‘Why would anyone be surprised at the Lib Dems refusing to meet Jeremy Corbyn to avoid a NO DEAL BREXIT?
‘All other parties are willing. They were so so so cosy being in bed with the Tories dishing out right wing policies damaging our people & communities.’
Meanwhile, the SNP’s Westminster boss, Ian Blackford, insisted his party’s priority was to stop No Deal, not install Mr Corbyn in No10.
Anna Soubry, the leader of the Independent Group for Change, formerly known as Change UK, said she could not make Mr Corbyn PM ‘for all manner of reasons’.
Tory Brexiteers said the letter showed Mr Corbyn was ‘desperate’ and the overall reaction to the plan means it is almost certainly doomed to failure.
Downing Street said the letter was evidence that Mr Corbyn wanted to stop Brexit.
A Number 10 spokesman said: ‘This Government believes the people are the masters and votes should be respected, Jeremy Corbyn believes that the people are the servants and politicians can cancel public votes they don’t like.’
In order for Mr Corbyn’s plan to work he would first need to call for a vote of no confidence in Mr Johnson’s government.
MPs are currently on holiday but will return to Westminster at the start of September with speculation mounting that the Labour leader could make his move sooner rather than later in the run up to the October 31 deadline.
Should MPs then vote to oust Mr Johnson there would then be a 14 day period in which a new government could be formed.
In order to become caretaker PM Mr Corbyn would have to secure the support of a Commons majority in a formal vote during that period.
While it is possible that Mr Corbyn could win a majority in the House of Commons at a vote of no confidence, the chances of him carrying that majority over into a vote on him becoming PM appear vanishingly small.
The magic number for a majority in the House of Commons is 320 because while there are 650 MPs, the Speaker and his three deputies do not vote while Sinn Fein’s seven MPs do not take their seats.
Labour currently has 247 MPs – a long way short of the 320 needed – and there is no guarantee all of Mr Corbyn’s backbenchers would support him becoming PM given some of them oppose his leadership while others are adamant Brexit must not be delayed again.